AS AQA Sociology - Education

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  • Created on: 23-03-14 09:38

Functionalism - role/purpose of education


Functionalism is consensus view - sees society as essentially harmonius, three main views on society 

  • Society has needs e.g. need for social order - society needs social solidarity to survive through everyone sharing the same norms and values, without this solidarity society would disintegrate 
  • Social institutions e.g. education perform positive functions for society and its members - socialises new members of society, helps create/sustain social solidarity
  • Functionalism is a conservative view of society - resistant to change, traditional 

Sociologists for role/purpose of education: Durkheim, Parsons, Davis & Moore 

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Functionalism - Durkheim

Durkheim - Social solidarity and skills 

Education performs two basic functions: 1. promotes social solidarity and 2. prepares young people for work                                                                                                        

Social solidarity - without this society would disintegrate, education transmits societys shared culture (norms + values) - this creates community and cooperation                     Schools teach cooperation, interaction and rules - teaches children to follow universalistic rules which is essential for society 

Skills - Education prepares young people for work, industrial societies (Britain) have specialised division of labour so people have to undergo long training periods for specific occupations                                                                                                         Education provides the individual with the specialist knowledge and skills needed to work in a modern economy 

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Functionalism - Parsons

Parsons - socialisation and meritocracy 

Argues schools is the focal socialising agency of modern society                                     Secondary socialisation - primary socialisation is performed by the family and every child is treated differently/specially, status is ascribed                                           In society everyone has to be treated the same e.g. the law, status is acheived             Education teaches universalistic standards and is a bridge between wider society and the family - socialises individuals into shared values of a meritocratic society 

Meritocracy - meritocratic society based on two values:                                                Individual acheivement - status is acheived through own abilities and effot, not where you come from but what you can do that gives you your position in society                    Equal opportunity - for every individual to acheive full potential

Minature society - both are meritocratic, individuals succeed/fail according to own ability in school - prepares them for modern society and economy which is competitive and individualistic   

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Functionalism - Davis & Moore

Davis & Moore - Role allocation 

Main function of education is role allocation - selection/allocation of individuals to their future work roles, their functionalist explanation of social stratification: 

  • Some people are more talented than others 
  • Some work roles are more complex so require greater skill 
  • For society to function efficiently the most talented individuals must be allocated the most important jobs 
  • Higher rewards are offered for these jobs - motivates people to strive for them 
  • Meritocratic education system allows equal competition - sifts and sorts individuals so the most talented get best qualifications and most important job allocations 
  • Society is more productive as result - most able people do most important jobs 
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Functionalism - criticisms

Competition - competition is not equal due to ethnic, gender and class inequalities meaning not everyone has the same chance in education

Marxists - values transmitted by education arent shared values - values of ruling class 

Meritocracy - not meritocratic as schools discriminate against some pupils (working class, black pupils) and dont allow them equal opportunity 

Social solidarity - Hargreaves argues education places more value on competition and individual development than developing sense of social solidarity as Durkheim claims

Role allocation - sometimes difficult to see direct link between subject qualifications and workers job requirements, education doesnt always equip for future work roles 

Interactionists - functionalist view is too deterministic - some pupils rebel/reject values 

Ascribed status - class background, gender and ethnicity more important in determining outcome in life than acheivement in school - society isnt meritocratic  

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New Right - role/purpose of education


More of a political than sociological perspective, is a view of interest to sociologists because:

  • More recent conservative view than functionalism 
  • Has influenced educational policy in britain and elsewhere 

New right views are similar to functionalism

  • Believe some people are more talented than others 
  • Agree with functionalists that educationm should be ran on meritocratic principles of open competition 
  • Education should socialise pupils into shared values and provide sense of national identity

Also believe older industrial societies (Britain) are in decline - partly due to increased global economic competition 

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New Right - education

View on education 

Contrary to functionalists believe that too much state involvement has resulted in inefficiency, national economic decline and a lack of personal and business intitiative       This has developed a culture of state welfare dependency - the cost of this reduces investment in industry

In all state run education system education ends up as 'one size fits all' so doesnt meet individual/community needs or needs of employers for skilled/motivated workers 

State run schools not accountable to those who use them (pupils, parents, employers) so they arent efficient, schools with poor results dont change as not answerable to consumers so lower standard/less qualified workforce 

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New Right - education solution


New Right issue - to make schools more responsive to their consumers                         New Right solution - marketisation of education (introduction of market forces of consumer choice and competition between supplies into areas ran by the state)

  • Argue that creating an 'education market' forces schools to respond to needs of pupils, parents and employers 
  • Example - competition with other schools forces teachers to be more efficient, schools survival depends on ability to raise acheivement levels of pupils 
  • Examples include social policies such as Formula funding - schools have financial incentive to be successful as those that attract more pupils recieve more money 
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New Right - marketisation study

Chubb & Moe - Consumer choice 

This study supports the New Right solution of marketisation: 

  • Compared acheivements of 60000 pupils from families in 1015 state and private schools in US 
  • Found that pupils from low income families do better in private schools by 5% - suggests state education isnt meritocratic 
  • State education failed to create equal opportunity as it doesnt have to respond to pupils needs 
  • Parents and communities cant do anything about failing schools whilst under state control 
  • Private schools deliver better education as answerable to paying consumers - parents 

Solution - introduce a market system in state education - give control to consumers via a voucher system, each family given voucher to spend on buying education from school of their choice 

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New Right - state involvement

Although they want to reduce states involvement in education they still see a limited role for the state: 

  • State should create framework for competition between schools - publish league tables of exam results, create national curriculum that all schools must teach to 
  • State should ensure that schools transmit society's shared culture through curriculum that teaches shared national identity - through teaching of British history 
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New Right - Evaluation

Believe schools that get poor results dont change as they arent answerable to consumers - Ofsted inspect and issue standard of school, can close failing schools 

Although school standards seem to gave risen there are other possible reasons for this improvement aside from introduction of a market - argument rests on state control being problem

Low standards of education in some state schools due to lack of funding rather than state control

Marxists argue education imposes culture of ruling class not a shared culture of national identity

Gewirtz - competition between schools benefits middle class who can get their children into more desirable schools 

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  • Conflict view that sees society as  being based on class divisions and explotation 
  • In a capitalist society there are two classes - ruling class (capitalists) and subject class (working class)
  • Capitalist class own means of production and make profts by exploiting labour of working class who dont own means of production 
  • This creates class conflict that could threaten stability of capitalism or result in revolution to overthrow it 
  • Social institutions (education) reproduce class inequalities and play ideological role - persuade exploited workers that inequality is justified and acceptable  
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Marxism - Althusser

Althusser - ideological state apparatus 

Capitalists able to hold on to power as they control the state, claims state consists of two elements that help to keep them in power:

  • Repressive state apparatus - when necessary to protect capitalist class interests, state uses foce to repress working class - police, courts and army 
  • Ideological state apparatus - controls peoples ideas, values and belief - religion, mass media and education 

Education system performs two functions as a ISA:  

  • Reproduction - of class inequality, fails each generation of working class, ensures they end up in same kind of jobs as parents 
  • Legitimation - justifies class inequality by producing ideologies (ideas and beliefs) that disguise the true case - tries to convince people inequality is inevitable and failure is fault of individual not capitalist system 
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Marxism - Bowles & Gintis

Correspondance principle 

  • Capitalism needs workers who are obedient and submissive - willing to accept hard work, low pay and authority 
  • Role of education is reproducing this kind of workforce, to acheive this successive generations of workers need to accept social inequality as inevitable and fair 
  • Argue there is close correspondance between relationships in school and those found in the workplace - creates new generation of worker ready to accept and serve capitalism 
  • Schooling takes place in 'the long shadow of work' - relationships and structures found in education mirror and correspond to work 

 Correspondance principle operates through hidden curriculum - lessons that are learnt  in school without being directly taught                                                                      Through everyday workings of school pupils learn to accept hierachy, competition,  alientation etc - it becomes the norm 

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Marxism - Bowles & Gintis

How School mirrors work 

  • Alienation - SCHOOL - pupils lack control over education, WORK - workers have lack of control over production 
  • Hierachy of authority - SCHOOL - head>teachers>pupils, WORK - boss>supervisor>workers 
  • Extrinsic satisfaction - SCHOOL - grades rather than interest in subjects studied, WORK - wages not satisifaction from job itself 
  • Fragmentation - SCHOOL - of knowledge into unconnected subjects, WORK - into small and meaningless tasks 
  • Competition - SCHOOL - divisions among pupils for grades, WORK - difference in status and pay, promotions etc 
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Marxism - Bowles & Gintis

 Legitimating class inequality 

Education system helps prevent people from realising exploited position or rebelling against the system as it legitimates class inequalities                                                Does this by providing ideologies that explain why inequalities are fair, natural, inevitable                                                                                                                          1. Creates myth of meritocracy - Functionalists argue education/work is meritocratic as everyone has equal opportunities, those who gain them deserve them                  Bowles & Gintis argument: this is a myth! Success is based on class background, by promoting untrue claims that reward is based on ability helps to persuade workers to accept inequality and their position 

2. Education allocates most talent to most important/rewarded jobs meritocratically    Bowles & Gintis argument: obedient students get best grades not those who were non-conformant/creative thinkers - rewards those to conform to qualities of future work

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Marxism - Willis

Counter school culture

  • Studied counter culture of 'lads' - group of 12 working class boys as they made transition from school to work 
  • Rejects correspondance principle - found 'lads' dont passively accept ruling class ideology, working class lads may resist attempts to 'indoctrinate' them at school
  • Lads formed a distinct counter culture opposed to the school - flouted school rules e.g. smoking, disruption of classes & truancy 
  • Anti school counter culture similar to shop floor culture of male manual workers - lads identify with male manual work, see themselves as superior to girls and ear'oles (conformist pupils) who aspire to non-manual jobs, saw school as 'having a laff'  
  • By resisting schools ideology they ensure failure and end up in manual work that capitalism needs someone to perform
  • Therefore even resistance of schools ideology can reproduce class inequality
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Marxism - policies

Business and education

Recent education policies make marxist analysis of education more relevant:

  • Marketisation policies 
  • Privatisation of some educational services 
  • Business sponsorship of state schools (academies) 

These result in more direct capitalist control over education and training 

Education system functions to provide a willing workforce for capitalism AND makes a profit out of this for capitalists 

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Marxism - Evaluation

Postmodernists - Marxism is out of date, correspondance principle no longer operatres/too simplistic a view                                                                                           Class divisions are no longer important as economic system more diverse/fragmented - Where Marxists see inequality there is really diversity and choice      

Feminists - Schools reproduce patriarchy as well - McRobbie - females are absent from Willis study 

 Marxists amongst themselves - Bowles and Gintis take determinstic view of pupils passively accepting indoctrination - Willis rejects this 'brainwashing' view and shows how pupils may resist school and still end up in working class jobs 

Romanticisation - Willis has been criticised for romaticising the 'lads' - showed as working class heroes despite anti-social behaviour, sexist - unrepresentative study                                  


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Class differences in achievement


Sociologists have put forward number of reasons why working class pupils do worse in education compared to middle class pupils, these can be divided into EXTERNAL (home or background factors outside of school) or INTERNAL factors (school or education system) 

External factors have been grouped into two different types of factor: 

Cultural factors - class differences in norms and values acquired through socialisation, attitudes to education, speech codes 

Material factors - the physical necessities of life, adequate housing, diet and income 

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Class - Culture deprivation

Some working class parents fail to transmit appropiate norms, values, attitudes, knowledge, skills that is the right culture for educational success      

This culture is transmitted to next generation through primary socialisation                      

Cultural deprivation theorists see 3 factors as responsible for w/c underacheivement:

1. Lack of intellectual stimulation 

  • Less likely to give children educational toys/activities to stimulate thier thinking and reasoning skills - also less likely to read to them 
  • This affects intellectual development so they begin school at a disadvantage compared to middle class pupils 
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Class - Culture deprivation

2. Speech codes

Bernstein - distinguishes between elaborated and restricted speech codes 

  • Working class use restricted code - less analytic and more descriptive, limited vocabulary, formed of simple gestures/sentences, particularistic (assumes listener shares particular meaning speaker holds) 
  • Middle class use elaborated code - more analytic and less descriptive, wide voacabulary and complex sentences, universalistic (spell out meanings explicitly and dont assume listener shares them) 

Elaborated code is used in education by teachers, books and exams so therefore the middle class are at an advantage enabling them the chance to do better in education 

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Class - Culture deprivation

3. Working class sub-culture

Identify 3 apsects of w/c subculture contributing to educational under acheivement:

  • Immediate gratification - wanting rewards straight away instead of being willing to make sacrifices and work hard for future rewards - the middle class practise deferred gratification 
  • Fatalism - a belief that whatever happens is due to fate and not your own making, w/c children believe they cant improve position by their own efforts
  • Low value of education -                                                                                              Hyman - working class dont value education, dont believe they will benefit so dont try  Douglas - working class parents show less interest in childrens education so give  them less suppport  - less likely to attend parents evenings etc 
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Cultural deprivation theory - evaluation

  • Ignores importance of material factors such as poverty 
  • Ignores impact of internal school factors such as labelling by teachers 
  • Blames the victim for their own failure - w/c arent culturally deprived, simply have different culture to the school and this puts them at disadvantage
  • Working class parents may not attend parents evening due to working long hours, believe teacher is superior etc not because they arent interested  
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Class - Material deprivation

Poor housing - overcrowding, damp rooms mean pupils have nowhere quiet to study, being homeless/temporary housing may mean frequent moving and changes of school that disrupt the childs education  Poor diet - can lead to illness, absence from schoo and lack of concentration due to hunger - being noticed by Kellogg's - Give a child a breakfast campaign  Low income - these problems usually caused by low income, this can also affect educational acheivement in the following ways: Lack of educational materials (books, laptops, internet access), Lack of right uniform/fashion items (cause of bullying, truancy etc), Not being able to afford university fees  However.. Internet access, books etc are provided by schools and libraries, university fees are covered by loans, homework after school clubs to provide quiet study time 

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Class - culture capital theory

Combines aspects of both cultural and material explanations

Marxists e.g. Bordieu 

Middle class pupils more successful as parents possess more capital/assets which comes in two forms: 

1. Economic capital - wealth that middle class families own 

2. Culture capital - attitudes, values, knowledge, skills etc of middle class 

Middle class use greater economic and culture capital to gain their child advantage - obtain educational capital (qualifications) 

Obtaining qualifications means children can get middle class jobs and more economic capital - reproducing middle class advantages from generation to generation 

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Class - School factors

Labelling  - Meanings or definitions attached to someone to make sense of them e.g. middle class pupils are bright, motivated, conformist, cooperative etc 

  • Becker - teachers label middle class pupils as 'ideal pupils' and prefer to teach them rather than working class pupils                                                                         Labelling underlies many other processes in school that cause underacheivement                                                                                           Labelling theory too deterministic - some reject labels and succeed, not all teachers label w/c negatively                                                                                                                                   Self-Fufilling prophecy 
  • Prophecy - prediction made about someone or something 
  • Self-fufilling prophecy - prophecy becomes true because it has been internalised 
  • Teachers can create SFP's due to labelling of pupils, studies show that "What teachers believe, students acheive"
  • Teachers believe middle class pupils to be bright (likely to succeed) whereas working class are labelled negatively and therefore fail - internalise negative labels 
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Class - School factors


  • Extreme and institutionalised form of labelling 
  • Puts all pupils of similar ability together in same class/stream for all subject - 'bright' ones in the top stream, 'thick' ones in the bottom stream 
  • Those placed in lower stream assume they are 'thick', become demotivated, SFP and become destined to fail 
  • Lacey - streaming is differentiation (seperates sheep from goats and educates them differently), often creates self-fufilling prophecy 
  • Douglas - IQ of pupils labelled as less able and in lower stream decreased over time, those pupils placed in the top stream increased - evidence of SFP 
  • Those placed in lower streams may be denied access to curriculum e.g. certain exams, higher level exams - doesnt allow them to reach higher grades 
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Class - School factors

Pupil sub-cultures 

Subculture - group whose beliefs, values and norms differ from the culture of wider society to some extent, these may be response to labelling, lead to SFP:                          Pro-school - pupils in higher streams, accept schools values and goals of hard work, attendance, respect for teachers, enjoy school, participate in activities and intend to continue in education e.g. a-levels, university                                                                Anti-school - pupils in lower streams, reject schools values and goals and often invert them, dislike school, flout rules, disrespect teacehrs, avoid work/homework, truant, customise the uniform

Lacey - lower stream pupils join/form AS-SC beause school deprives them of status through labelling, create own status heirachy - gain status from peers by rejecting school values/rules 

Focusing on internal factors neglects the role of home factors e.g. poverty/culture depriv

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Class - School factors

Educational policies 

  • School curriculum etc is influenced by government polciies which can affect class differences in acheivement
  • Some sociologists argue that marketisation policies have increased streaming in schools 
  • Policies on issues such as: 
  • Grants
  • Fees 
  • Maintenance allowance
  • School leaving age 
  • Compensatory education 
  • These all affect home background factors such as cultural or material factors 
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Ethnic differences in achievement

Ethnicity - shared culture, identity and history   Ethnic group - group of people who see themselves as a distinct group based on factors such as religion, language, race or geography 

Patterns of ethnic acheivement:

  • Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi do worst; Indian do best 
  • White pupils are very close to national average - because make up most of school population 
  • White and black working class pupils - girls do better than boys, Asian working class pupils - boys do better than girls 
  • Working class black girls do better than working class white girls 

There are two sets of factors which influence ethnic acheivement:

1. Internal factors - school/education system e.g. pupil teacher interaction                       2. External factors - outside education system e.g. home background 

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Ethnic - external factors - CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

Intellectual and language skills 

  • Children from low income black families lack intellectual stimulation - fail to develop reasoning and problem solving skills 
  • Bereiter & Engelmann - language of poorer American black families is ungrammatical and disjointed, children unable to express abstract ideas - barrier to educational progress 
  • However..    Swann Report - language is not major factor in underacheivement, any negative effect is temporary, Indian pupils do well despite not often speaking English at home 
  • Some claim that those who dont speak English at home may be held back in school 
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Ethnic - external factors - CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

Attitude, values and family structure 

  • Fatalism and immediate gratification - cultural deprivation theorists claim some black children are socialised into fatalistic subculture focused on immediate gratification, leads to lack of motivation to succeed 
  • Lack of male role model - many african-caribbean familys are without as the women are seen as strong and independent, may encourage them to turn to anti-school macho gang culture                                                                                          Murray - high rate of lone parenthood and lack of positive male role models leads to underacheivement of some minority pupils 
  • Connor - minority ethnic parents place higher value on education than white parents 
  • Sewell - only minority of african-caribben boys were anti-school 
  • Culture of poverty - Moynihan - absence of male role model of acheivement in black matrifocal lone parent families produces inadequately socialised children to fail at school, become inadequate parents, continue culture of poverty 
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Ethnic - external factors - CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

Attitudes, value and family structure 

  • Impact of slavery - Pryce - black caribbean culture is less resistant to slavery because of experience fo slavery, result of this is black pupils with low self esteem and underacheive 
  • Asian families - Khan - Asian family is obstacle to acheivement especially for girls, takes controlling attitude towards them - do less well than boys as result 
  • Some argue that Asian families have more positive attitudes to education, adult authority is similar to school, Asian parents more likely to support schools behaviour policies than white parents 
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Ethnic - external factors - CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

Attitudes, values and family structure - white working class pupils 

Underacheivement reasons: lower aspirations due to white working class culture e.g. lack of parental support

Lupton - Teachers reported poorer levels of behaviour and discipline in white working class parents, linked this to lower parent support and negative attitudes of white working class parents to education 

Evans - Street culture in white working class areas can be brutual, brought into school - result is strong peer pressure to reject education 

Compensatory education: educational policy, aims to counter effects of cultural deprivation, includes:                                                                                                       Operation Head Start and Sure Start - compensate children for culture defecit, support development of preschool children in deprived areas 

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Ethnic - external factors - CULTURAL DEPRIVATION


  • Victim blaming - Keddie - minority ethnic group children are culturally different, not culturally deprived and underacheive because schools are ethnocentric - biased in favour of white culture 
  • Cultural exclusion - Ball - minority ethnic group parents at disadvantage as less aware of how to negotiate British Education System, cultural exclusion rather than deprivation 
  • Gerwitz - some application forms are examples of this 
  • Cultural domination - compensatory education imposes dominant middle white class culture on minority ethnic groups pupils culture 
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Ethnic - external factors - MATERIAL DEPRIVATION

Material deprivation - lack of physical or economic resources essential for normal life in society, ethnic minorities are more likely to face these problems 

  • Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are more likely than whites to be poor
  • Unemployment is high for many minorities, pay is lower (racism in wider society) and overcrowded homes are more likely - less space to study 
  • Swann Report - social class accounts for at least half of difference in educational acheivement between ethnic groups 
  • Lowest acheiving minority ethnic groups are those with lowest social class position - Bangladeshi and Pakistani are more likely to be working class and do worse compared to white and Indian pupils 

While class is important it doesnt fully overide impact of ethnicity: pupils of same class but different ethnicity acheive differently e.g. middle class black pupils do less well than white or Asian middle class pupils at GCSE 

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Ethnic - internal factors - LABELLING

Black pupils

Gilbourn & Youdell

  • Teachers have racialised expectations about black pupils, expected more discipline problems and threatening behaviour
  • Black pupils most likely to be punished for the same behaviour as other races
  • Pupils felt teachers underestimated their ability and picked on them

Conclusion: conflict between white teachers and black pupils stems from racist stereotypes of teachers rather than childrens behaviour

Causes underacheivement as leads to - higher levels of exclusions amongst Black boys, black pupils placed in lower sets or streams


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Ethnic - internal factors - LABELLING

Asian Pupils


  • Asian stereotyped by teachers and treated differently
  • Assumed children would have poor english so used simplistic language when speaking to them
  • Mispronounced their names
  • Saw them as a problem they could ignore
  • Due to this Asian pupils, particuarly girls, were marginalised and prevented from participating fully - lowered their self-esteem
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Ethnic - interna; factors - LABELLING

Asian Pupils


  • Primary school teachers saw Asian pupils as passive and conformist
  • Both teachers and pupils saw Asian boys as more feminine, vulnerable and less able to protect themselves
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Ethnic - internal factors - PUPIL SUBCULTURES


  • Black boys adopted range of responses to racist labelling by teachers as rebellious and anti-school
  • Conformists - largest group, keen to succeed, accepted schools goals, had friends from different ethnic groups
  • Innovators - second largest group, pro-education but anti-school, valued success but not teachers approval
  • Retreatists - minority of isolated individuals disconnected from school and black subcutlures outside it
  • Rebels - small but highly visible minority, reject schools goals and rules, conformed to stereotype of black macho lad, despise white boys and conformist black boys, aim to acheive status of street hood - despite small minority teachers tended to view all this way
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Ethnic - internal factors - REJECTING LABELS


  • Group of high acheiving black girls, yr 11, London comprehensive, maintained positive self image by rejecting teachers stereotypes of them
  • Recognised value of education and determined to acheive, only conformed in terms of schoolwork, working hard without appearance of doing so
  • Didnt seek teachers approval, maintained friendships with black girls in lower streams, similar to innovators in Sewell's study

Mac & Ghaill

  • Study of black and asian A level students at sixth form, didnt necessarily accept teachers negative labels
  • Some girls felt the all girls school they attended before gave them greater academic commitment
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Ethnic - internal factors - REJECTING LABELS


  • Black girls strategies for dealing with teachers racism sometimes restricted their opportunities e.g. not asking certain staff for help
  • Even though they didnt accept the labels, there was no self-fufilling prophecy they were stil disadvantaged

These studies criticise labelling as deterministic - doesnt always result in self-fufilling prohecy of failure

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Ethnic - internal factors - INSTITUTIONAL RACISM

Ethnocentric curriculum

Troyna & Williams - Gives priority to white culture and english language 

David - National curriculum is specifically british that teaches culture of host community

Ball - history curriculum in british schools recreates 'mythical age of empire and past glories' while at the same time ignoring history of black and asian pupils

Minority ethnic groups feel they, culture, identity arent valued in education - diminishes self esteem  

Although it ignores Asian culture chinese and indian pupils acheivement is above average - Stone: no evidence black pupils suffer from low self esteem                                                    

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Ethnic - internal factors - INSTITUTIONAL RACISM

Setting and streaming

  • CRE study of Jaliegh school found Asian pupils consistently placed in lower sets than ability and less likely to be entered for GCSE exams, black pupils placed in lower sets and had less chance of gaining qualifications

Governing bodies

  • Hatcher - schools governing bodies gave low priority to race issues, failed to deal with racist behaviour and lacked formal channels of communication with ethnic minority parents
  • Ranson - governing bodies are disproportionately white
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Ethnic - internal factors - SELECTION & SEGREGATIO

Commission of Racial Equality - found racism in secondary schools admission procedures, primary school reports stereotyped minority pupils, lack of information on application forms in minority languages and bias in entrance interviews

Marketisation - makes this worse by increasing selection in education, creates more opportunities for admissions to be racist, makes it difficult for minority pupils to get into high acheiving schools - education system becomes segregated with minority pupils more likely to be in unpopular, unsuccessful schools

Self-segregation - Gerwitz - Asian parents made active choice to avoid 'rough' schools with reputation for racism, opted for ones perceived as safe and with firm discipline

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Gender differences in acheivement

Boys used to outperform girls but since 1980's girls have improved more rapidly and do better than  boys in most subjects at all levels

Patterns in acheivment

  • Key stage 1-3: girls do consistently better than boys, particuarly in English, gap is narrower in science and maths
  • GCSE - girls are around 10 percentage points ahead
  • AS/A level - girls more likely to pass, get higher grades - gap is narrower than GCSE
  • Girls now do better in traditional boys subjects e.g. science
  • More girls than boys go into higher education

Reasons for improvement

Internal (education system) or External factors (home, job market etc)

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School - external factors - FEMINISM

  • Since 1960's feminists have challenged patriarchy in all areas of social life e.g. school, home, work etc and rejected traditional stereotypes of women as inferior to men
  • Feminists have had impact on womens rights and opportunities through campaigns to win changes in the law e.g. equal pay etc
  • Feminist ideas likely to have affected girls self-image and aspirations meaning they are more motivated to do well and succeed in education
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Gender - external factors - CHANGING AMBITIONS

Linked to influence of feminism studies show there has been a shift in how girls see themselves and thier future


  • Compared her two studies of working class girls in 1970's - 1990's
  • Found in 1970s: girls priorities were love, marriage, husbands, childrens, jobs and carrers in that order, saw future in terms of domestic role not paid work
  • 1990s: priorities had switched to careers and being able to be independent


  • Found girls had higher career aspirations now and so needed educational qualitications
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Gender - external factors - FAMILY CHANGES

Since the 1970's:

  • The divorce rate has increased and 40% of mariages now end this way
  • More lone parent families, 90% of them headed by females
  • More cohabitation and decrease in first marriages
  • Smaller families and more women staying single

These changes mean women have more need and opportunity to be economically independent, this gives them more motivation to do well educationally and get good qualifications

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Gender - external factors - WOMENS EMPLOYMENT

More employment opportunities for women than previously due to expansion of service sector which is traditionally an area of women's work - womens employment has risen from below half of married women to 75% now

Changes in the law have improved the position of working women:

  • 1970 Equal Pay Act and 1975 Sex Discrimination Act gave women more employment rights
  • Since 1975 the pay gap between men and women has almost halved

Due to these changes girls have more of an incentive to see thier future in terms of paid work and creates and incentive for them to gain qualifications - more motivated to succeed

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Gender - internal factors - POLICIES

Equal opportunities policies

The idea that boys and girls are equally capable and should have same opportunities is widely accepted and now a social norm within education, this has led to policies aimed at giving girls and boys equal opportunities

  • GIST & WISE - progammes to encourage girls into science and technology
  • The National Curriculum - introduced in 1988, girls and boys now largely study the same subjects e.g. science is now compulsory helping to create equal opportunities
  • Meritocracy - due to these policies education is more meritocratic , based on principle of equal opportunity and now girls have more equal opportunities than in the past they are able to do better
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Gender - internal factors - ROLE MODEL & COURSEWOR

More female teachers and head teachers than in the past and provide positive, pro educational role models for girls                                                                               More female teachers feminises the learning environment and encourages girls to see school as part of female gender domain and somewhere they belong - come to perceive educational success as desirable female characteristic

Mitsos & Browne

  • Girls do better than boys in coursework as they are more conscientous and organised, girls mature earlier and can concentrate for longer
  • Introduction of coursework therefore boosted exams results more than boys


  • The gender gap in acheivment increased sharply when GCSE was introduced in 1988 as coursework was major part of subjects
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Gender - internal factors - MATERIAL

Stereotypes in learning materials 

  • Studies of reading schemes, textbooks and other learning materials: in the past females were under represented and portrayed as subordinate to males, in domestic roles or unsuited to certain subjects 
  • Since the 1980's - sexist images have been removed, replaced with more positive images of females - may impact on girls perceptions of what women can do and raise aspirations 
  • Selection & League tables 
  • Marketisation policies led to competition between schools, more incentive to recruit more able students to boost results and table position 
  • Girls more successful in general so more attractive to schools 
  • Boys lower acheiving and badly behaved, schools view them as liability students, will give them bad image and poor results 
  • Girls are more likely to be placed in successful schools, better education - results 
  • Radical feminists argue education is still partriarchal e.g. sexual harassment 
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Gender - internal factors - TEACHERS

Teacher attention

  • Spender - early study found teachers spend more time interacting with boys than girls 
  • French & French - teachers paid boys and girls similar amounts of attention for academic reasons, boys received more attention overall because they attracted more punishments for bad behaviour 
  • Francis - although boys recieved more attention they were disciplined more harshly, felt teachers picked on them and had lower expectations of them 
  • Swann - boys dominate class discussions whereas girls prefer group discussions and are better at listening and cooperating, finds favour with teachers who respond more positively to girls and give them more encouragement 

These studies more recent than Spender suggest that girls may benefit more from teacher attention than boys 

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Gender - boys underachievement


Boys tend to lag behind due to poor literacy skills:

  • Parents spend less time reading to boys, mainly mothers who read to young children so reading is perceived as feminine activity 
  • Boys leisure interests e.g. sport and computer games dont encourage language and communication skills, whereas girls 'bedroom culture' does 
  • Team games such as football require successful communication 

Because literacy and language are important in most subjects boys poorer skills have wide ranging affect on their acheivement 

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Gender - boys underachievement

Globalisation & decline of traditional mens jobs 

  • Since 1980's globalisation has led to manufacturing industry relocating to developing countrys, decline in heavy industrys in the UK e.g. mining, shipbuilding and manufacturing 
  • This led to 'male identity crisis' - loss of motivation and self esteem, many boys now believe they have little job prospects so cease trying to get qualifications 

Lack of male role models at home 

  • There has been an increase in the number of female headed lone parent families (1.5 million), many boys grow up lacking positive male role model who goes out to work to support a family 
  • The boys may also be less likely to see the value of employment and therefore the value of education and qualifications
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Gender - boys underachievement

Feminisation of schooling 

Sewell - Argues boys fall behind because education has become feminised, schools no longer nurture masculine traits such as competitiveness and leadership 

  • Some argue assessment has been feminsed by introduction of coursework and this disadvantages boys 
  • There is lack of male primary school teachers - 1/6 primary school teachers are male so this may give boys the idea that education is feminine activity 



  • Often use boys leisure activities e.g. sport and famous male role models, they aim to improve boys literacy skills and motivation to acheive 
  • Examples include Raising boys acheivement project, the Reading Champions scheme and Playing for success
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Gender - boys underachievement

Laddish subculture 

Francis - boys were more concerned than girls about being labelled by peers as 'swots' as threatens masculine identity, working class culture sees non-manual work as effimate and inferior

Epstein - pro-school working class boys were likely to be harassed, labelled as gay and verbaly abused 

As girls move into non-masuline areas such as paid work, boys become more laddish to try and indenfify themselves as non-feminine and this leads to underacheivement 

Studies suggest laddish subcultures are mainly working class 

Connolly - there is interactions effect, certain combinations of gender and class have more effect on acheivement than others 

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Gender - subject choice

Gender routes

  • There are major differences in subject choice, girls and boys follow different gender routes in thier subject choices 
  • National curriculum - most subjects are compulsory, where choice is possible boys and girls choose differently: in DT girls choose food technology and boys choose resistant materials 
  • Post 16 education - more choices available and big gender differences emerge, boys opt fo rmaths and physics, girls choose languages, English and sociology, this continues in HE 
  • Vocational subjects - gender segregation is greatest, only 1% of construction apprenticeships are female, girls tend ot choose beauty therapy or hairdressing 
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Gender - subject choice - EXPLANATIONS

Early socialisation 

  • Gender role socialisation - learning behaviours expected of males and females 
  • Family - from early age boys are dressed differently to girls, given different toys, boys are rewarded for being active and girls for being passive 
  • School - Byrne - teachers encourage boys to be tough and show initiative, expect girls to be tidy, quiet, helpful and clean 
  • Leisure reading - Murphy & Elwood - boys ready hobby books and information texts so prefer science subjects, girls read stories about people and prefer english 
  • Gender domains - tasks and activities seen as male or female territory, shaped by childrens early experiences and adult expectations 
  • Browne & Ross - when set open ended tasks e.g. boat designing, boys designed power boats and battleships, girls designed cruise ships, this affects subject choice: peoples feelings are girls domain - girls choose humanities, how things work is boys domain so they choose science 
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Gender - subject choice - EXPLANATIONS

Gendered subject images 

  • Subjects have gender images, seen as male or female e.g. science mainly taught by men, textbooks use boys interests as examples so seen as masculine subject 

Peer pressure 

  • Other boys and girls pressure others to conform, boys opt out of music due to negative peer response, girls who choose sport recieve 'butch' and 'lesbian' comments from boys 
  • Pupils in single sex schools make less traditional choices - no peer pressure 

Gendered careers

  • Many jobs seen as man or womans and tend to be dominated by one gender e.g. nursing and construction work 
  • Vocational courses which prepare people for specific careers also tend to be gender dominated 
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Gender - identity and schooling

Gender and sexual identities 

  • Connell - school reproduces hegemonic masculinity - dominance of hetereosexual masculine identity and subordination of female and gay identities 
  • Feminists - experiences in school act as form of social control to reproduce partriarchy - male domination and female subordination, happens in the following ways:


  • Haywood and Mac & Ghaill - male teachers reinforced gender identities by telling boys off for behaving like girls and ignoring boys verbal abuse of girls 

Male gaze

  • Form of social control where male pupils and teachers look girls up and down as sexual objects, boys who dont participate may be labelled as gay - social control 
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Gender - identity and schooling

Verbal abuse 

  • Name calling puts girls down in certan ways, acts as social control to make them conform to male expectation 
  • Lees - notes that boys call girls 'slags' if they appear sexually available, there is no equivalent term for boys, these labels reinforce gender borms 
  • Mac & Ghaill - found anti-school working class boys subcultures use verbal abuse to reinforce their definitions of masculinity, called boys who worked hard '******** acheivers' 

Double standards

  • Exist when one moral standard is applied to one group but another applied to a different group 
  • Lees - boys boast about their own sexual exploits but girls are negatively labelled for theirs 
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Educational policy - development of state educatio

State education has gone through several stages, Miriam David indentifies these as:

Phase 1 1870-1944 - middle class recieved academic education for future professional careers, working class had elementary schooling in basic skills for factory work, left school early 

Phase 2 1944-1988 - Initially the triparite system, used 11+ exam to allocate pupils to secondary schools, channelled middle class into grammars and working class into non-academinc education in secondary modern schools 

1965+ - comprehensive system introduced in most parts, replaced grammar and secondary modern schools, with comps that all pupils attended, inequalities still produced as schools still streamed pupils so working class disproportionately placed in lower streams 

Phase 3 since 1988 - Conservative's introduced Education Reform Act in 1988, had marketisation at its core, after 1997 Labour continued to maintain education market 

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Educational policy - marketisation

David - This is parentocracy, competition forces schools to improve in order to attract customers and therefore raises acheivement 

Ball & Whitty - marketisation produces inequality, publication of league tables means schools with good results more in demand with parents so can be more selective - select high acheiving pupils who are more likely to be middle class and female 

  • Schools are funded according to numbers they attract, popular schools with good results get more money, afford more teacehrs and resources - attract more high acheiving pupils and get better results 
  • Process works in reverse for schools with poor results, middle class pupils benefit most from this process 

Ball - Marketisation legitimates inequality, idea of parent power gives image of parents being in control, able to choose childs school - low acheivement seen as parents fault 

Gerwitz et al - m class parents have more culture/economic capital, more choice

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Educational policy - New Labour

Aims of labour policies (1997-) 

  • Promote diversity and choice - by maintaining education market, policies include competition between schools, creating Specialist Schools and setting up academies 
  • Reducing inequality of opportunity - policies include Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), Education Action Zones (EAZ's) and Aim Higher 
  • Still reproduce inequalities - markets/competitions produce winners and losers

Evaluation of New Labour Policies:

  • Policies are contradictory - EMA's help poorer pupils stay on post 16 but they now have to pay university tuition fees 
  • New Labour has left private system untouched
  • Choice and Diversity are nice ways of saying inequality, education market ensures working class pupils remain disdvantaged
  • More education spending and focus on learning society have been genuine acheivements
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Educational policy - Ethnicity

Policies have gone through 3 stages:

  • Encouraging assimilation through English as a Second Language programmes
  • Valuing all cultures through multi-cultural education policies such as black studies in main curriculum
  • Social inclusion - legal duty on schools to promote racial equality 

Mirza - even recent policies are too limited in scope 

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Hello is this all you need to know to be fine for the exam? please reply :(

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